Sunday, 17 July 2005

How often does that happen?

An aircraft carrier went past my living room this morning. Possibly the most bizarre sight since I moved into this flat nearly two months ago. The aircraft carrier had four tugs and three police boats with it. In such sensitive times (as announcements on every train station platform remind me) I still find it weird that the navy needs a police escort. But then this is Woolwich and they still had Thamesmead to go past. Without the police there the local residents may have stripped the ship of all its metal in a thrice.
The river at this end of London is fairly busy. It's not the most upmarket part of London but there are enough yachts to give the impression of more peaceful climes. Huge cargo ships arrive every so often, there's a new ferry service operating a couple of minutes walk away to take residents of a posh new housing estate up to London, most evenings there are some grotty looking party boats no doubt the guests are too surprised to complain about not seeing central London ("We're where? You mean the Dome is all we'll see?" "Don't forget the Thames Barrier!"). But of all the boats I see, I'm obsessed with the Woolwich Free Ferry, the lumbering, ugly vessels that take HGVs from one bank to the other. All day. All week. The journey is brief, it's value, with no Thames crossings for miles either side, is huge. It's such a simple, old fashioned operation, I hope it stays that way forever. You can keep your huge navy ships, I'll keep the ferry named after Ernest Bevin. You can keep the occasional oddity on the river. I'll hang onto the mundane, the everyday.

Saturday, 16 July 2005

People get ready...

I’ll be forty when the Olympics finally roll into town. It’s all due to start on my fortieth birthday. A fitting celebration I feel. But what to do when it gets here? Which event should I choose? I suppose athletics is probably out. Running has never been a strong point. Ditto jumping. And throwing. I could probably fire the starting pistol but I can’t be certain of my aim. So, twenty-three more sports to choose from. I’ll rule out any that need an impressive physique. Or any level of fitness. No swimming. No gymnastics. No pentathlon. No cycling. Definitely no rowing or beach volleyball.

What’s left? No, really, I’m asking. What else does the Olympics provide? For most people it’s all about the athletics but south of the river in dear old Greenwich there will be four or five events. There’ll even be one in Woolwich. There’s always the football although that’s an under 23 tournament so I’ll be too old. I’ve never been near a horse in my life. That’s eight sports, sixteen to go. Is canoeing the same as rowing? Does anyone care? Could I partner Tim Henman in the doubles? Would anyone care? I’m quite happy to give hockey a go. I’d easily qualify for the heavyweight boxing but I’d want to wear a shirt, one that the blood would come out of easily. They do that silly Greco-Roman wrestling which just looks like an excuse to roll around on the floor for five minutes. I’ve got the height for basketball but not the skill. So I’m stuck. The Olympics are coming to London and I really want to take part.

If only gambling was an Olympic sport. I could have a go there. And I’d be a cert for gold in the couch potato event. I’d consider commentating but trying to crowbar three hundred words into the 9.8 seconds of the hundred metres would be slightly daunting. Mind you, I’d just have to repeat the athletes’ names, quickening up and increasing the volume as they approach the line. No, it’s programme selling for me. Not much to worry about there. Or perhaps I’ll go where the real money is. I’ll find the place in the whole Olympic movement that there is a guarantee of some ready money. I will be working in East London come 2012. I’ll be an estate agent…

Please note archive fans, photo added so that I can get it hosted and therefore on the profile.